“We Are All Enlisted”
Megan C. with SALifeline.org
I hope that you will all keep a prayer in your heart for me and also for you as we delve into a subject that is sensitive. I will be bold; do not misunderstand my boldness for insensitivity. It is an effort to, as Harold B. Lee has said, “…comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I hope this lesson has a little bit of both.
Mary Ellen Smoot has said, “We go to Relief society each week to not only be fed, nurtured, and loved, but also to report for duty.” Today I am here to call you sisters to duty in the Lord’s army. Julie B. Beck at the 2009 BYU Women’s Conference declares, “FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT” for our families against the evils of pornography and sexual addiction. Yes, we are going to talk about that. Anyone uncomfortable yet?
We just sang the song “We are all Enlisted”. It is a battle cry to those who will join in battle in the Lord’s army. “We are all enlisted ‘til the conflict is over. Fight for our Savior, come, come away.” Joseph Smith taught: “When we joined this church we enlisted to serve God. When we did that we left neutral ground and we can never go back on to it.”
What does it mean to be “enlisted”? Some definitions are: to participate actively in a cause or to join, enter into, volunteer or sign up.
Where and why did we “enlist” in this conflict with Satan? Elder James J. Hamula reminds us, “It is written by John the Revelator “and there was a war in heaven: Michael and his angels (us!) fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, “and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. “and the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which decieveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
We were enlisted in the pre mortal existence to fight this battle. We did so because we knew that God’s plan was good and we wanted to have part in the joy that is His plan. We know that Satan was cast to Earth and that here he has tools and power to persuade and deceive.
Elder James J. Hamula continues, “Satan’s war did not end with his expulsion from Heaven. As John observed, Satan and his followers were cast out into the earth and have come here with ‘great wrath’. The evidence of their wrath can be seen in the blood and horror that has afflicted man from the beginning of time. So profound and extensive have been the wounds suffered among men that God Himself wept as He surveyed man’s condition.”
Despite knowing of Satan’s influence on the Earth, we were still eager to live this life and experience agency that we might continue our decision to be “enlisted” and receive the joy and blessings of the Plan of Salvation.
So what of our role in the battle with Satan now that we are here? Robert. C Oaks stated, “When armies are formed, battles are generally fought on vast battlefields. But this battle for souls is quite different. The conflict goes on each day in individual lives and pits the Lord’s troops against Satan’s forces of greed, selfishness, and lust.” He continues, “The stakes are extremely high. The prizes are the very souls of the sons and daughters of God, their eternal salvation.”
Elder Hamula declares, “Satan is marshalling every resource at his disposal to entice you into transgression. Make no mistake about it – the focus of the war is now on you – you who seek to “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
We are going to deviate a bit here and I am going to share with you how this particular battle with Satan has affected my life.
I have an awesome family. My parents were married and sealed in the temple. Both sets of grandparents were also. I am one of 7 kids ranging in ages from 37 to 21. I have 2 sisters and 4 brothers. All brothers and 1 sister served missions. 5 of us are married, sealed in the temple and there are 15 grandkids. My youngest 2 brothers are returning from their missions next month. I love and adore my family. I could stop there but that is not all that my family is.
Pornography and sexual addiction have been apart of my family since before my parents even met. My dad was first introduced to pornography when he was 6 years old. Despite repeated efforts to resolve his struggles, 15 years later he brought into a marriage with my mom an addiction that was spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically crippling. That continued for 30 years. In those 30 years there were major and devastating lows that were painful and agonizing for my mom and us children. Satan has created this tool of sexual addiction to affect and harm as many souls as it can in its wake. The addiction was my dad’s. However, the effects were agonizing not only for him, but for my mom and our family. The effect on me as a child was significant. This was very hard as a child to not know why I didn’t have a relationship with my dad. Now, as it stands today, for 6 ½ years my dad and my mom have worked tirelessly to find hope and recovery from this addiction. They have received guidance from qualified therapists, worked with many in addiction support groups, and shared their struggles and successes with families seeking recovery. My dad has worked to “re-enlist” himself to the Lord’s army. He has become a valiant soldier who remembers his noble birthright and works one day at a time to earn it. My mom works by his side on her own recovery from the effects of his addiction in her life. She is a valiant soldier in the Lord’s army. She too works one day at a time to live as the Lord has asked her. To have faith and not fear. Knowing that if she trusts in the Lord with all her heart and leans not unto her own understanding He will direct her path (Proverbs 3:5-6) . My own experience in my family has brought me to a place of determination and strength in an effort enlist families and individuals in the battle…
WHAT ARE OUR TOOLS IN THIS BATTLE AGAINST POROGHRAPY AND SEXUAL ADDICTION?
FAITH, KNOWLEDGE, EDUCATION, ACTION
I make an effort to acknowledge that the approach we take will be significantly different depending on our individual situations. However, the tools will be similar for each relationship and situation. Make no mistake; I do not suggest by any means that this is a male-focused addiction. Satan wants all of us. He will use whatever means possible to achieve this.
We must acknowledge that this is affecting our lives as wives, mothers, grandmothers and church leaders. Statistically it is or will affect every family. It is affecting our marriages and it is affecting our children. I am not suggesting that there is an addict in each marriage or that every child will be overcome with this particular tool of Satan. We are all in different situations. Some of us know and are acknowledging it and working to fight it. Some of us know but do not know how to fight or what to do and some of us do not feel that it is a tool that Satan will use against us. Whatever our current situation we must realize our opportunity to become as Moroni. “Verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” Alma 48: 17
The qualities of Moroni found in Alma chapter 48 (emphasis on
verses 7-17) give all of us who desire to fight for the Lord in this battle for “our very souls” the ultimate example of a valiant soldier and a courageous leader. He used the tools of faith, knowledge, education and action to not only protect himself but all who desired to have and maintain the freedoms the Lord had promised. First, FAITH: While their enemies were “obtaining power by fraud and deceit,” Moroni was “preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.” He was a man who was “firm in the faith of Christ.” Next, KNOWLEDGE and EDUCATION: “And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man: he was a man of perfect understanding; a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.” KNOWLEDGE and EDUCATION are different tools in this battle for our souls. Knowledge is an “acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles”. Education in definition is “The act or process of educating or being educated.” It is not enough to know about Satan’s tools (knowledge) we must continually seek out (education) how to fight against them. This is where we come to ACTION. Again the example of Moroni: “He had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, around about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.” He labored to physically protect the people he loved. Sisters we must learn to act physically and spiritually. We can learn about computer filters and internet security. We can keep our family computers out of bedrooms or otherwise secluded areas. Those things will be positive actions. However, take very seriously the responsibility of acting on spiritual promptings. There is no man-made security system that will keep our families immune to the attacks of Satan.
Mothers, along with the example of Moroni I would like to suggest two talks by M. Russell Ballard: Fathers and Sons; A remarkable Relationship (Nov. 2009) and Mothers and Daughters (May 2010). Both talks are very specific about the roles parents play in the lives of their children. There are several common themes in these talks and I would like to share one of those themes that directly applies to this subject. “Dare to have the “big talks” with your sons. You know what I mean: drugs and drinking, about the dangers of today’s media- the Internet, cyber technologies and pornography- and about the priesthood worthiness, respect for girls, and moral cleanliness. I am especially concerned that we communicate openly and clearly with our sons about sexual matters. Your sons are growing up in a world that openly embraces and flaunts early, casual, and thoughtless promiscuity. Your sons simply cannot avoid the blatant sexual imagery, messages, and enticements that are all around them.” (from Fathers and Sons)
“Mothers, teach your daughters the importance of making covenants, and then show them how to keep those covenants in such a way that they will desire to live worthy to go to the temple. In today’s world this means talking to your daughters about sexual matters. Your daughters as well as your sons are coming of age in a world that openly embraces early, casual, and thoughtless promiscuity. Immodest, unchaste women are glamorized and all too often celebrated and emulated. While there are steps that we can take in our homes and families to minimize our exposure to these unsavory elements of contemporary living, your daughters cannot entirely avoid blatant sexual messages and enticements that surround them. You need to have frequent, open discussions during which you teach your daughters the truths about these issues.” (from Mothers an Daughters)
I must be bold sisters. We cannot simply talk about the elements of sexual matters that we are “comfortable” with. Masturbation and homosexuality are mandatory topics that must be addressed. I do not suggest we become “comfortable” with these behaviors however we must educate ourselves as to how Satan is using tools such as these in an attempt to destroy our families and our children. With knowledge and education we become less fearful and more faithful.
If we do not know how to or are uncomfortable with having open and informed conversations with our children, pray for guidance. Use the examples in the scriptures. Seek out council from the Bishop. You will also be able to find EDUCATION in the form of books written by specialists who are members of the church, who understand the behavior but also the doctrine. We must apply what we are learning to our parenting and that is where the tool of ACTION comes in. ACT upon the promptings of the spirit. ACT upon the council of our leaders. It is not enough for our children to know what is “BAD.” We must teach them what is good and right and help them gain a desire to do the right. Show and teach them those things.
Please mothers, when a child comes to you and shares an exposure to explicit materials or it is discovered that a child has been involved with these choices I would plead with you to act as the Savior did when dealing with those who have sinned. Do not shame them. Satan’s tools are affective because we are too ashamed to admit to them. Shame is a tool Satan uses to drive us into deeper secrecy and self-loathing. We must allow our children to know of our Savior’s love for them and of our love for them and admonish them to seek repentance.
Now to the struggle and heartache of wives of those involved in pornography and sexual addiction. First things first, each wife will react differently to her specific situation. We must remember that as different as our situation seems, we are not alone in our pain. If we could all walk around with signs that tell the world of our struggles we would be overwhelmed at the similarities in our lives. Despite this, we feel isolated, angry and confused. Wives will often ask: How could a loving Heavenly Father allow me to marry this person who has brought me such pain? Such pain is a result of trauma. We are traumatized when our spouse discloses or we discover our spouse has involvement in this behavior.
The tools are the same yet have a very different feel. Let’s revisit our four tools from earlier: FAITH, KNOWLEDGE, EDUCATION, and ACTION.
Ellen W. Smoot shares, “We cannot abandon our faith when challenges come our way.” She goes on to say, “We will not turn away, we will not retreat; we will not become discouraged.”
Sisters, I am working on this. Discouragement has been somewhat of a companion of mine recently and I share this with you that you might know that I am daily working to keep my heart turned to the Lord and my feet walking in his path. I hope that we can all support each other in this daily endeavor. From Dec. 09’ to Nov. 10’ I experienced three late miscarriages, the first at 10 weeks, the second and 12 weeks and the last at 14 weeks. I was devastated at the pain and confusion that came as a result of these losses. I felt strongly that the Lord desired for me to have more children. It is a righteous desire and I was confused at how in trying to follow the Lord’s plan I could feel such pain. This is very similar to the feelings of wives who in many cases were obedient to the Lord and were married in the temple and made eternal sealing covenants with there spouse. They will experience pain and despair when they discover that their spouse has been involved with pornography and betrayed those covenants. These feelings are often directed at the spouse but also at God, which leads to the question, “How could a loving Heavenly Father allow this to happen in my life?” Sister Smoot shares, “Even though we were instructed regarding the difficulties we would encounter on earth, I doubt we understood or could have known how demanding and trying, how tiring and even sorrowful at times this mortal existence would be. We have no doubt all, at some point, felt that what we were experiencing was just too hard to bear.” In these times of sorrow and pain we can take a measure of comfort and peace from this great truth shared by Orson F. Whitney, “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility….it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.” I know with all my heart that despite my discouragement, pain and sorrow I must maintain and strengthen my faith. Sisters, the pain and heartache that is felt because of a spouse’s choices is what Brother Whitney is talking about. It is not for nothing. The Lord knows you and desires you to come to Him and find peace in Him.
Similar to how we must educate ourselves as parents we much educate ourselves as spouses. What is our role in a relationship that is affected by addiction? We can find that answer in appropriate places. As earlier stated there are qualified specialists who share their knowledge about both addiction and gospel doctrine in books that are specifically directed to spouses. There is also an opportunity for both the addict and the spouse to work with qualified specialists in one-on-one therapeutic settings. There is no shame in seeking help. It is of greatest importance that we learn we are not responsible for our spouse’s actions, whether good or bad. We must also learn that forgiveness is different from trust. We are required to forgive but we are at our own liberty to allow trust when trust is broken. We are not the cause of their addiction and we are not the answer to their recovery.
Vital to us all is the leadership of a loving bishop. Bishops know that our families are struggling. They know that we desire to have faithful and happy families. Their role in our challenges is mandatory if we desire to have the full assistance of the Lord and His atonement.
Now that brings us to the ATONEMENT. This is a whole other lesson sisters, however, each of the tools that I speak of are founded on the importance of the atonement. Our faith is in the atonement. We must learn and continue to seek an understanding of the atonement. We must act on the principles of the atonement. The Savior knows you. He knows your joys and your heartaches. He has suffered for you. Surrender your pain and your will to Him and He will bring you peace.
Please understand that when I implore you to enlist in this righteous battle I give full credit and authority to God’s plan and the Lord’s atonement. We know that in the end Satan will loose this battle. It is our obligation to remain on the Lord’s side if we are to receive the glory of the Victory as we remember, “The prizes (of this war) are the very souls of the sons and daughters of God, their eternal salvation.”
Talks and Resouces “We are all Enlisted”
General Conference Talks
- Pornography, Dallin H Oaks, April 2005
- Winning the War Against Evil, Elder James J. Hamula, October 2008
- Who’s on the Lord’s Side? Who? Robert C. Oaks, April 2005
- Steadfast and Immovable, Sis. Mary Ellen Smoot, Oct. 2001
- Fathers and Sons: A Remarkable Relationship, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Oct. 2009
- Mothers and Daughters, M. Russell Ballard, May 2010
- Alma 48: 7-17
- Proverbs 3:5-6
- “He Restoreth My Soul: Understanding and Breaking the Chemical and Spiritual Chains of Pornography Addiction Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ” Donald L. Hilton Jr.
- What’s the Big Deal about Pornography?” Dr. Jill Manning